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Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd Paperback – September 6, 2011
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“...to give a bullet-point summation of takeaways is to deny the real value of this lovely book.”--Harvard Business Review
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Youngme Moon is the Donald K. David Professor at Harvard Business School. One of HBS’s most popular teachers, Dr. Moon has received the Student Association Faculty Award for teaching excellence on multiple occasions. Dr. Moon’s research focuses on innovative consumer-marketing strategies and her work has been published widely, including in Harvard Business Review.
From the Hardcover edition.
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1. Reverse brands
- like when Google put out a homepage devoid of the million things AOL and Yahoo! had
2. Breakaway brands
- when Sony branded AIBO not as a robot but a pet and reframed how we thought of the product
3. Hostile brands
- Like the Mini Cooper which focused on how much smaller it was than you thought when it came to North America which was big car focused
She says that most brands are actually a bit of all of these and that these aren't the only categories brands could fit in to either.
The big takeaways are that you shouldn't get caught up in just expanding your services (the augmentation trap in her words) and that you need to stop and think about how you can run against the trends to stand out.
Is this worth your read? If you're looking for a bunch of practical advice and workshop material to break your brand away then no. If you're looking for a mostly interesting discussion on branding and a look at some interesting brands then yes it's worth a read.
PROS: Not too robotic (flows as in conversation) yet structured enough, a lot of examples to bring her points to life
CONS: In all honesty, there isn't that much content in the book other than what the cover says - "Escaping the competitive herd".
She talks about "heterogeneous homogeneity" where proliferation of category "differentiation" has resulted in sameness and gives Laundry detergent as an example. (Tide regular, Tide with bleach, Tide this, Tide that… product expansion by addition/multiplication) That's really about it. Other chapters sort of beat this dead horse over and over in slightly different ways, but doesn't add additional insight. To be honest, the discipline of marketing is case-by-case business and cannot be taught in a classroom or a book in my opinion… so I do give kudos to Prof. Moon for trying to make this book as entertaining and not so generic as much as possible.
People new to marketing/branding might find this still a great read, but ppl with marketing experience/business education may find this shallow.
Some of the key ideas contained in the book:
* Market segmentation and product augmentation, while attempting to create differentiation, have actually led to meaningless distinctions.
* Competitive analysis and comparative metrics have generated conformity and resulted in competitive herding, with all competitors blurring together in the mind of the customer.
* One way of creating effective differentiation is to subtract features from the offering, creating difference by stripping away the superfluous.
* Another way of creating effective differentiation is to create polarization, so that some people hate your offering while others love it.
* Another way of creating effective differentiation is to transform an offering into a different category in the perception of customers.
The book is written in a discursive manner, rather than being constructed according to a clearly defined plan. This works quite well because of the author's engaging writing style. I found most of the author's arguments to be quite persuasive. The book is not, and does not purport to be, a definitive manual on the subject of differentiation, but it does in my view provide a good introduction to many aspects of differentiation which are not yet widely understood.
You should read this book if your job involves selling something to someone; which includes most of us. You should read this book to help you step back from the daily grind and really think about what makes brands different and more importantly what makes them unique.
Moon's slender volume isn't chock full of specific advice detailing steps 1 through 100 on how to beat the competition, but rather is an elegant examination of how today's consumer culture gives us more of what we think we want, but less of what we need.
Too many marketing books (past and present) rely on a critical analysis of the competition and offer more examples and instructions that only gives us more of what Moon describes as "heterogeneous homogeneity". She is right to argue that there are so many choices today, but so many are the same. If you want to be Google, IKEA and In-N-Out different, read this book and for once try something new. It might become the norm eventually and seem absolutely crazy at first, but it just might make you and your company different enough to matter.
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The author clearly intends to write a compelling book on what it means to do great brand marketing.Read more